Website Optimization Methods
Website Optimization: Site Speed, Design, and Search
Website Optimization Methods
There are many approaches to website optimization but the whole concept boils down to one goal: increase conversions. Luckily, there are services and strategies that you can employ to focus specifically on how to turn clicks into sales on your website. Here are 9 you should be aware of:
1. Website Optimization: Site Speed
There’s nothing more annoying and frustrating to a consumer than a website that loads slowly. Online consumers are all about getting results ASAP, so if your site is consistently making it difficult for a shopper to transition from a comparison shopping engine SERP to your website to complete a sale, then you can pretty much mark that visit up to a wasted click and overall fail. The research is there: conversions suffer as site speed decreases.
In terms of ways you can improve this aspect of your website on your own, your choices are limited. You’re usually going to have to pay to see an improvement in your site speed because website development is generally something you either got right (by hiring a great developer) or wrong when you first launched your site.
Fortunately, there’s a service called Pingdom that offers a free aspect of their service that measures your website’s performance, in terms of functionality and speed. Their full service can also analyze each aspect of your site to see what’s loading slowly so that you can take action to improve or remove it.
Speed Improvement Provider
You should also consider CloudCache, or the higher-end solution NetDNA, which are services that utilize content delivery network (CDN) technology, a.k.a. multiple servers, to ensure your website is functioning as fast as it possibly can. This way, you don’t have to rely on just one potentially not-so-reliable server.
CloudCache is for websites that generally clear less than 1 TB (thats a little over 1000 GB) a month in bandwidth.
NetDNA, which owns CloudCache, is for larger businesses that require A LOT of bandwidth. Typically businesses that clear over 1 TB of bandwidth a month should seek the services of NetDNA.
There are similar services to these that you can seek out, but as a rule of thumb, take a speed test to ensure your site performance isn’t hurting your conversion rate.
2. Website Optimization: Site Design
Simply put, your website should look awesome. There’s no worse scenario than an interested shopper visiting your site and being so turned off by it that they ditch the sale entirely. Again, this may be an area outside your domain of expertise, so you may have to hire a developer and designer for this area of website optimization. In the interest of converting sales, your website design should focus primarily on:
Product and Category Pages
This is where online shoppers will be sent to when clicking on your product on a CSE. Your product page should be aesthetically very pleasing and should present all the relevant details about your product very clearly. Everyone says this, but seriously, have a pair of fresh eyes take a look at your pages.
Before creating your ideal product page, find out what some of the leaders are doing in your product category. For example, if you sell shoes, check out what Zappos is doing for some ideas on how to enhance your site. Their Fit Survey feature (below) is catered specifically to the interests of shoe customers and is a great addition to a shoe product page.
Do an analysis of your customers and think about the features they would want to see on a product page. This analysis and planning stage is critical.
Additionally, your product image(s) need to be high quality.
If a customer gets a good enough impression from your product page, they may even feel inclined to check out the rest of what your site has to offer. Your homepage should only add to a shopper’s confidence in purchasing a product from your website, and so it should obviously appear professional, legitimate, and seemingly as if you’ve been in the business for a while (even if you haven’t).
Where checkout buttons are placed on your product page, what they say, and how they look are all key factors in closing a sale. You won’t really know how effective (or ineffective) your buttons are until you run them against alternative layouts and designs.
Fortunately, there are several services that specialize in exactly this area. You can check out Optimizely, a self-service site that allows you to run experiments (A/B testing) to see how different layouts and designs of your website affect your calls-to-action (a.k.a. your checkout button). As the merchant, you can test to see how different buttons and button locations affect your conversions.
Another cool site is CrazyEgg, where they use some pretty high-tech stuff to generate heat maps of your site. These maps indicate which areas on your page are looked at most closely by visitors.
3. Website Optimization: Site Search
Your website’s internal search engine bar can also be a deal breaker for some online shoppers. This ties back to the idea of how well your website works efficiently for the consumer. After all, if a shopper is searching for a specific product on your page, you already know they’re interested in buying so you just have to provide them with the product page.
Consider adding a Google, Nextopia, SLI Systems, or PicoSearchsearch bar to your website.
Search is also essential for long-tail queries. For example, a customer searching for a “stainless steel, Kenmore microwave” on your site obviously has a specific product in mind, meaning they have a higher intent to buy than a shopper that’s just browsing for a microwave.
PicoSearch is your pretty general search service that offers a FREE basic solution for websites with 250 pages or less. For businesses with up to 6000 pages, the Premium plan is $498/month.
SLI Systems is a high-end search solution that offers typical search features in addition to A/B testing.
Nextopia is another search service that offers a lot of cool variations on standard search features. They have positively reviewed customer service as well.
Search allows for your site to locate these long-tail queries for your shopper, provided that you include all relevant details on your product pages (which you should). This will positively impact your website conversion rate and potentially keep shoppers on your website for longer.
Continue on for more fundamental website optimization techniques and services that can help you with them.